Prefects, Governors, and Commissioners of the King in the Netherlands, c. 1800–1900

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference Article in proceedingAcademicpeer-review


This chapter outlines the genesis of, and historiography on, the Commissaris van de Koning (commissioner of the king) and his predecessor the Gouverneur, who acts as the head of a Dutch province. The Commissaris van de Koning is not a popular figure, nor has he struck a chord with historians. Nevertheless, thanks to abundant archival material, historians can initiate fresh archival research and start using new approaches. This chapter serves as a point of departure. It will be shown that central to most discussions on the role of the Governor/Commissioner has been the question of centralisation. The commissioners of the king have always had an ambiguous job description. These state representatives have embodied the balance of power between the national government and subnational administrative entities and thus the degree of centralisation. Another recurring factor is the correlation between processes of democratisation and modernisation (or at least transformation) of administrative structures. As important intermediaries of the nation-state, the commissioners of the king deserve more attention from scholars.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPrefects and Governors in Nineteenth-century Europe
Subtitle of host publicationTowards a Comparative History of Provincial Senior Officials
EditorsPierre Karila-Cohen
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages25
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-91614-5
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-91613-8
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2022

Publication series

SeriesPalgrave Studies in Political History


  • Netherlands
  • Administration
  • Commissioners
  • Governors
  • Provinces


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